Critical Evaluation

(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

The last of Robert Smith Surtees’ comic-satiric novels, MR. FACEY ROMFORD’S HOUNDS was published posthumously, twenty-seven years after the author had collected his earliest sketches from The New Sporting Magazine and reprinted them, with John Leech’s droll illustrations, as JORROCKS’ JAUNTS AND JOLLITIES. His eighth book, not part of the more popular Jorrocks series, continues the adventures of several characters who first appeared in MR. SPONGE’S SPORTING TOUR (1853). Facey Romford, a minor figure in that novel, is now fully developed as a clever rascal pushing his way forward into high society. In his genial impudence, Facey resembles the grocer-sportsman John Jorrocks. Jorrocks, however, is essentially a London Cockney who aspires to be accepted by the landed aristocrats as a fox hunter. The Cockney rises in class partly as a result of his hard work and partly from his good common sense that judges people for their true worth. On the other hand, Facey is a native to the countryside and plays the games of the sportsman simply to thrust himself forward as a gentleman. A calculating but likable opportunist, his real sport is not racing with the hounds but hurdling the class barriers.

With his customary humorous skills, Surtees elaborates a tale based on a slender idea for the novel: Facey, a rustic confidence man, assumes the identity of his aristocratic namesake, Francis Romford, Esquire, of Abbeyfield Park. It is a...

(The entire section is 525 words.)